Legal child marriage in the U.S.

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Helping children in forced marriages is murky territory for activists and social workers. A child who leaves home under the age of 18 is considered a runaway, meaning that social service organizations and shelters could face legal action for helping them.

On top of that, many of the resources that are available to adults in abusive marriages aren't available to named minors. In the United Slates, a person cannot Just remove the child from the situation — that could be considered kidnapping, punishable by up to life in prison. Child Protection Services also typically decline to get involved before a child is married, and after the marriage, they may no longer even have the authority to get involved.

As I alluded to before religion is an important factor that comes into play here. Most of the survivors of these forced child marriages come from tight religious circles. When you look at the list of countries where child marriage is most common at the top of the list are the heavily Islamic countries of Chad, Niger, Bangladesh, and Ginny. The jewish halakhah sets the minimum age for marriage at 13 for boys and 12 for girls. Catholic canon law allows marriage at 16 for boys and 14 for girls. In these tight religious circles the girl would never be able to tell authorities or get out of the marriage until shes at least 18. Even then if she divorced her husband she'd likely be banned from her community forever. Some things are being done to stop this by the organization "unchained at last" but their efforts and proposals have actually been turned down by several states. For example New Jersey governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have banned marriage for teens under 18 in the state of new Jersey for the reason of "an exclusion without exceptions would violate the cultures and traditions of some communities in New Jersey based on religious traditions". After Chris Christie left office though the bill quickly progressed in new Jersey again, which is great, but the progress on the bill was obliterated completely again.

"And then Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin pulled A865 (the bill to raise the marriage age to 18 without exceptions) from me assembly agenda on May 24 2018, Just minutes before the assembly session"-unchained at last.

Gary shayer (an orthodox jew) was the one to convince Craig Coughlin to do this. It was only after all of this that the bill finally progress once more and was eventually passed. New Jersey isn't the only place people are trying to make a change though "Unchained has last has helped to write, introduce, and promote legislation in some two dozen U.S states to eliminate the human-rights abuse but so far only two states have ended all child marriage: Delaware, which did so in May 2018, and New Jersey which did so in June 2018.

“Two down. 48 to go."- unchainedatlast.com

Unchained at last, and various activists are making politicians and legislators in plenty of states aware of the flaws in our legislature, yet even when presented with the hanus statistics the bill is still not being passed due to trivial reasons that are not worth the amount of children that are stuck in violent and emotionally destructive marriages with absolutely no way out.


Change in policies (here is a list of all the states that still have child marriage legal, the minimum age, and the name of the current child marriage bill)


Washington - no minimum -pending bill for age of 17 - HB2376

Oregon - no minimum - pending bill for age 18 - HB2767

California - no minimum - bill passed that does not limit marriage laws to satisfy people - SB273

Alaska - no minimum - bill failed - SB273

Hawaii - no minimum- no bill

Arizona - 16 (no more than 3 year difference) - HB2006

Nevada - no minimum - strong bill pending - AB139

Idaho - no minimum - weak bill pending to make legal age minimum 16 - H0098

Montana - no minimum - bill to make legal minimum 18 has died - HB533

Wyoming - no minimum - bill to make legal minimum 18 has died - HB60

Colorado  - no minimum - weak bill to rase age to 18 pending - HB19-1251

New Mexico - no minimum - no bill

Texas - 16 minimum - HB3932/SB1705

North Dakota - no minimum - no bill

South Dakota  - no minimum - no bill

Nebraska  - no minimum - no bill

Kansas  - no minimum - no bill

Oklahoma  - no minimum - no bill

Minnesota - no minimum - 2 currently pending bills to raise marriage age to 18 - HF745/SF1393

Iowa  - no minimum - no bill

Missouri - 16 minimum (within 4 year age gap) - SB655

Arkansas - 17 minimum - HB1708

Louisiana - no minimum - SB463

Indiana - no minimum - no bill

Kentucky - 17 minimum (within 4 year age gap) - SB48

Tennessee - 17 minimum (within 4 year age gap) - established cause of action for forced marriage survivors - HB2134/SB226

Mississippi - no minimum - no bill

Alabama - no minimum - no bill

Maine - no minimum - bill pending to make marriage age 16 - LD545/SP144

New Hampshire - 16 minimum - bill killed to raise age to 18 - HB1587, HB1661, and HB1586

Vermont - no minimum - bill killed to raise age to 18 - H790

Massachusetts - no minimum - bill pending to raise age to 18 - H2310/S785

Rhode Island  - no minimum - no bill

Connecticut - 16 minimum - bill pending to raise age to 18 - HB5442

New York - 17 minimum - A5524

Maryland - no minimum - bill to raise minimum to 18 has died a total of 4 times - SB231

West Virginia - no minimum - no bill

Virginia - 16 minimum (emancipated; judicial consent) - HB703/SB415

North Carolina - no minimum - no bill

Sourh Carolina - 16 minimum - S0196

Georgia - 16 minimum (no more than 4 year age gap, emancipated, and has completed premarital education) - HB228

Florida - 17 minimum (2 year age gap)